Wheew! You just finished your first film (or script.) It was a lot of work and you're proud of your new baby, but what now. We might expect our feature to appear at the AMC with twinkling lights; we might expect that an A list star, one who has the power to get a film made like Johnny Depp, will be calling to do our script.
Well many filmmakers/ writers are under the false impression that by entering a lot of festivals they can get their film magically sold. The fact is only a small percent of films at the film festival find distribution and even with distribution, there's no guarantee that your film will see theatrical release. There's also a limited number of festivals for screenwriters to showcase their wares and really get someplace with that script. We only hear about the big ones that sell just because they are so few and far between. I mean, when was the last time you heard about a film going to Sundance and languishing there? True, getting there is half the game, but it's only HALF.
It's important, therefore, to have a producer's rep, one who has long standing relationships in the industry, to pull execs into your screening or to get the A listers to read your material. There are only a few good producer's representatives around and Page Ostrow of Ostrow and Company is one of them.
Working as an assistant director in Hollywood North (Toronto), Page's talent was quickly identified and, because she speaks a number of languages, was asked to sell world territories for distinguished distributors like Graham King. It was a time when presales of films were plentiful. ( In fact, sometimes 90% of the film budget would be provided by such sales. Sadly, this is no longer. ) Realizing that Independent Films needed help, Page saw an opening, a job that, before that time, had not existed, that of Producer's Representative. "Unlike good wine, films do not age well with time. If you're not selling the same year your released, it's more difficult to sell."
She tells of one film Juvies, a Mark Walberg film about youngsters in the criminal system, which made the rounds for two years. The producers, themselves, had brought it several times to HBO, but the subject matter made it a difficult sale. Page, however, had a great relationship with HBO and favors films with a social meaning. She called in some favors and within a few weeks the film had a deal that far exceeded the expectations of the filmmakers. "Even if the distributors or networks aren't crazy about one film that I represent, they know that I have other films they do want. So I have the leverage to make a deal whereas the filmmakers might not."
Checking her site, I found that Ostrow and Company has films playing on every network and all over the world. Her success rate is phenomenal and for that reason, she is worth every penny of the retainer that she charges.
"It's a lot of work to prepare some of these films and many filmmakers forget to dot their I and cross their t's. They don't get proper releases from their actors or music. They can't properly deliver their film. Sometimes there are just too many cooks in the kitchen. They have great ideas but can't understand what their film is worth. We might make a deal and the film maker becomes greedy and demands far more than the film demands. Other times, the filmmakers are just not professional and don't make themselves available. I worked very hard on one film deal only to have the producers not return my calls. The deal was a 48 hour window and so the contract was lost.
"Many people feel that because they are creatives and starving artists they shouldn't have to pay anything for the privilege, but unless we charge an upfront fee, we end up working for nothing in cases where, as above, the filmmaker doesn't have his film ready for show. Sometimes, the filmmaker can be unrealistic in their expectations and will refuse to make the deal that we have found for them. " The later event is usually sorted out with the first consultation.
In every case described, Page was able to get the filmmakers more than they expected and quicker because "I know most of the Hollywood execs. I have relationships with them and know their families. They expect only the best from me. Distributors are out for themselves and will not always get the filmmaker the best deals. We are out for the filmmaker and make sure that they are paid what they deserve. We are great at collecting the monies owed.
"A lot of filmmakers forget to include P and A (print and advertising) in their budget. This is a big mistake. It is no longer a trend for distributors to pay this. You, the producer, have to plan on marketing fees for your own film. The fee for a producer's representative comes out of this budget."
You get what you pay for, however, and if you want one of Page's trainees to handle your work, it will cost you less than if you ask her. Retainers go from $5,000 to $15,000 (payment plans taken) depending on who you want. For all the work they must do, this comes out to less than $2/hour!! This fee, however, buys their help for the life of the movie. A lot of people have now copied Ostrow and Company's style, but unlike some producer's reps who will only guarantee you a year or so, or who might even, themselves, go out of business before the license on your film is expired, Ostrow and Company is there for the long haul. Once one license goes out, Page and her company works to find another home for the film shortly after.
The company will also read screenplays and can, at times, find you funding or an A list star interested. The initial consultation of $325 gives you not only their reading and their notes, but an hour interview with Page, herself, as she guides you in the right direction for your film. They can also find funding for films stuck in post production.
For more information go to www.pageostrow.com and www.producersrepresentative.com
A Division of Repflix Inc Producer's Representatives 468 N. Camden Drive, 3rd Floor,
Beverly Hills, CA 90210 1 (310) 276-5007 [email protected]
www.ostrowandcompany.com Ostrow and Company has arranged financing and/or
negotiated distribution for over 200 feature films, TV movies and documentaries.
For more information, film library, submission protocol, finance, distribution,
calendar of events, and press go to: www.ostrowandcompany.com